Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “…One of the distinguishing marks of the people of innovation is to make up a statement or action, then compel the people to take it up, (after that they) force them to adopt it and to show loyalty based upon it, (lastly they force them to have) enmity for leaving it.
Just as the Khawaarij innovated their opinion and compelled the people to follow it and (forced them to) show loyalty and enmity based upon it.
And the Raafidah innovated their opinion and compelled the people to follow it and (forced them to) show loyalty and enmity based upon it.
And the Jahmiyyah innovated their opinion and compelled the people to follow it and (forced them to) show loyalty and enmity based upon it…
So whoever punishes (someone) for doing an act or leaving it without an order from Allaah or his messenger and legislates that as part of religion then he has set up a peer to Allaah and has set up an equal to the Mmessenger just like the polytheists who set up partners with Allaah, or like the apostates who believed in Musailamah the Liar, and he is from those about whom it was said, “Or have they partners with Allaah, who have instituted for them a religion which Allaah has not allowed?” [Shuraa 42:21]
And for this reason the Imaams of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah would not compel the people with what they would say in issues of ijtihad, and they would not force a single person.
For this reason when Haaroon ar-Rasheed consulted [Imaam] Maalik ibn Anas about making the people follow his [book] Al-Muwatta, he said to him, “Don’t do that, O Chief of the Believers, for verily the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger have spread out throughout the lands, and each nation [to which they went] has taken from those [Companions] who were among it, and I have only collected the knowledge of the people of my land”, or words to that effect. He also said, “I am only a man, I am correct and make mistakes, so refer my statements back to the Book and the Sunnah.”
And Imaam Ahmad said, “It does not befit a faqeeh (a scholar of fiqh) that he forces the people to follow his madhhab or that he insists (his madhab upon) them (complying to follow his madhab)” and he (also) said, “Don’t blindly-follow any men concerning your religion, for indeed they will not be safe from making a mistake.”
So if these are their statements about the fundamentals [usool] of knowledge and subsidiary issues (furoo’) of the religion, (i.e.,) that they do not permit forcing the people to follow their madhhabs even though they deduced the (rulings of their) madhhabs with legislated proofs, then what is the case about compelling people and forcing statements upon them which are not found in the Book of Allaah, or a hadeeth from Allaah’s Messenger, nor have they been transmitted from the Companions or the Taabi’een, and nor from a single one of the Imaams of the Muslims?”
Ref: Al-Fataawaa al-Kubraa, vol. 6, p. 340, summarised.
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie